Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Assorted Links

1. This NY Daily News oped cites my Forbes article

Here we go again. In 2014, Democrats are at it once more, introducing symbolic bills that don’t solve women’s problems, all to paint a ridiculously unfair caricature that the Republicans are waging a war on women.

 2. Natural gas exports poised for takeoff

The USA now produces more natural gas than any other country. Yet Russia, the second largest producer, is the world's top net exporter, followed by Qatar and Norway.
The reason: U.S. law requires export facilities get a "public interest" approval from the Department of Energy if their buyers are located in countries that haven't signed a Free Trade Agreement with the United States. Non-FTA countries include all European nations as well as China, India and Japan.
3. Jayson Lusk on how eating organic foods doesn't reduce cancer risk 

These findings mesh well with other research I've pointed to in the past noting that food pesticide are a relatively small risk in the grand scheme of things. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Let's eliminate the minimum wage for teenagers - my newest oped in Forbes

Link here

But this law has a devastating impact on teenagers, who aren’t trying to raise a family.  In 2013, 16-19 year olds had an unemployment rate of more than 20 percent.  Workers in every other wage group suffered much lower rates of unemployment. If it weren’t for the minimum wage, we would expect these rates to be much more equal.  The minimum wage’s impact is far worse for African Americans, who often are enrolled in failing, union-controlled, government school districts and are more likely to be raised by a single parent. The unemployment rate among African-American teenagers was about 40% in 2013!

Friday, April 4, 2014

My current research ...

I've been swamped with a new research project ... I will return to blogging regularly soon (I promise).

In the meantime, if you or someone you know lives in this area and smokes, call up and participate.  It's a good deal and most participants also think its fun!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The power of incentives - weight loss edition

About a month ago, I promised my students that if I didn't lose 7 pounds in about 2 months, I would pay them $100.

My initial weight was 212.5.

After a bit more exercise, along with eating smarter (apples for snacks, salads at fast food restaurants, etc.), here was my weight today (26 days later):

I won!

Incentives are powerful.  Yet, I'm thinking of doing something more.  I'd really like to get down to 195-197 range on this scale (I'm fully dressed, with shoes, on this scale), so perhaps I'll offer to pay them if I can't lose a few more pounds.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The most offensive part of "Rent" (the musical)

As those who read my blog regularly will know, I enjoy musical theatre.  One of the most popular musicals of the past 20 years is Rent.  I just saw a production of it this past weekend at our local community theatre (I'd also seen it about 15 years ago with a Broadway touring company).  I was lucky, as an economics major that I taught in two courses, Seth Confer, was the lead role (Mark).  He was outstanding, as was the show.

The show, while great, isn't for all ages.  There are many parts of the show that are objectionable for children.  There is adult language along with many references to drugs and casual sex (some scenes are quite explicit about this as well).  That said, as a parent and an economist, that's not the part of Rent that's most inappropriate for children.  It's a song at the beginning, Rent.  This song doesn't contain the conventional items that parents that would consider inappropriate.  They should, however.

Here are some of the lyrics:  (Link to song here on Youtube)
How do you document real life
When real life's getting more like fiction each day?
Headlines, bread-lines blow my mind
And now this deadline, eviction or pay rent
And more:
We're hungry and frozen, some life that we've chosen
How we gonna pay? How we gonna pay?
How we gonna pay? Last year's rent?
And more:
Draw a line in the sand and then make a stand
Use your camera to spar, use your guitar
When they act tough, you call they're bluff
We're not gonna pay, we're not gonna pay
We're not gonna pay, last year's rent
This year's rent, next year's rent
This is what's offensive.  It's easy to teach that drug use and promiscuous sex are bad.  A song that celebrates people who want to live for free in a place without paying rent, that's a bit tougher.  This is a rock-and-roll song celebrating people who feel they've been wronged because they're being asked to ... gasp ... pay rent.

The show is entertaining, but if you take your children (or teens), be sure to have a discussion of why the song Rent is so inappropriate.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

My newest publication ...

One of my most recent published papers is titled Estimating Demand for Alternatives to Cigarettes with Online Purchase Tasks.  It was published in the American Journal of Health Behavior.

Here's the abstract:


To explore how advertising affects demand for cigarettes and potential substitutes, including snus, dissolvable tobacco, and medicinal nicotine.


A Web-based experiment randomized 1062 smokers to see advertisements for alternative nicotine products or soft drinks, then complete a series of purchase tasks, which were used to estimate demand elasticity, peak consumption, and cross-price elasticity (CPE) for tobacco products.


Lower demand elasticity and greater peak consumption were seen for cigarettes compared to all alternative products (p < .05). CPE did not differ across the alternative products (p ≤ .03). Seeing relevant advertisements was not significantly related to demand.


These findings suggest significantly lower demand for alternative nicotine sources among smokers than previously revealed.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Travel time

Sorry for the lack of posts recently.  During spring break, I visited family near Phoenix, AZ.  I also just had a trip to Buffalo, NY.  (Buffalo is often called the "Arizona of upstate NY".)

Throw in the kickoff of a big NIH-funded research grant and my usual commitment to being an excellent teacher, and blogging has been put on the back-burner.  I'll be posting again semi-frequently soon, however.